Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Review: Motherless Brooklyn

Release date: November 1, 2019
Running time: 144 minutes
Starring: Stars: Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Dallas Roberts 

Directed, written, and produced by Edward Norton, “Motherless Brooklyn” (which is loosely based on Jonathan Lethem's 1999 novel) follows Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton), a lonely private detective living with Tourette’s syndrome and OCD.  Essrog’s journeys through New York takes him from the jazz clubs in Harlem to the hard-edged slums of Brooklyn and, finally, into the gilded halls of New York's power brokers looking for clues to solve the murder of his only friend, mentor and boss Frank Minna (Bruce Willis). Lionel is convinced that Frank was on the verge of exposing corruption within the inner city hall leaders before his death. During this journey Lionel is helped and hindered by a variety of characters including Moses Randolph (Alec Baldwin), a pessimistic titan in the world of development who looks to take New York into the next generation of urban planning by any means necessary. Also he meetings a community activist Laura Rose (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) whose life is being affected by Minna’s development.

Motherless Brooklyn wasn't just a movie but an experience.  The filmmakers went all out to establish this world, including an amazing score—with an original song by Thom Yorke—and art that totally captures the essence of New York City in the 1950's. This movie was also brimming with activity, from the very rich soul of the jazz clubs to bright New York City night lights and ambitious residences trying to stop its corrupt politics.  With such a star studded cast, Edward Norton is without a doubt the highlight with his portrayal of a character with Tourette’s syndrome.  And although this condition isn't a laughing matter, he truly give the audience someone they can enjoy rather than being uncomfortable which is a brilliant life lesson. The dialogue in the movie not only provides tons of laughs but also tons of perspective about power and abuse of power in how it effects others.  One speech especially at the end of the movie is a real hard pill to swallow.

If there’s one complaint about this movie, it’s that Lionnel’s journey is a long one. The movie is well over two hours long, which might be too much for some viewers. And much of that time is spent with Lionel; i wish there was a little more screen time for the other interesting characters that we meet.  But that being said, if you are a fan of crime, mystery and drama, this movie will have you putting on your detective hat to looking for clues, putting pieces of the puzzle together, waiting to make the big bust!

Motherless Brooklyn is an experience, with a fantastic setting that captures the lights, sounds, and soul of 1950’s New York and fills it with a cast of interesting characters to meet along the way.

Watch it

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